Numerous clinical trials have examined treatment options for dementia. These include:
- cognitive training
- antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene)
- omega-3 fatty acids
- DHA supplements
- Hormone therapy
- type-2 diabetes treatment
- cardiovascular treatments
However, to date there are no alternative treatments that can prevent, treat, reverse, or cure dementia.
What about Ginkgo biloba?
Gingko biloba, or ginkgo tree leaves, is one of the most researched alternative treatments for dementia and AD. But so far the results are not convincing.
The largest study that examined ginkgo’s effect on dementia and AD was the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study. Here, more than 3,000 volunteers, age 75 and older, took ginkgo on a daily basis.
Yet, the researchers found ginkgo did not lower the overall rate of dementia and AD in the elderly. Ginkgo also did not slow mental decline.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) sponsored another trial. It found that ginkgo taken daily for six weeks did not improve the memory among 200-plus healthy adults over age 60.
Ginkgo is relatively safe when taken the right way. But like any herb it can have side effects and not be right for everyone. Here are some precautions from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):
- Side effects may include headache, nausea, digestive problems, dizziness, or allergic skin reactions. More severe allergic reactions have occasionally been reported.
- Ginkgo may increase bleeding. People on drug to prevent blood clots or who suffer from bleeding disorders, should first consult their doctor. You should also be careful if have a scheduled surgery or dental appointment.
- Raw ginkgo seeds contain large amounts of a chemical called ginkgotoxin, which can cause serious reactions, including seizures and even death.
- Products made from standardized ginkgo leaf extracts contain little ginkgotoxin and are safe when used correctly.
Read Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention for information on how various strategies and lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and social engagement, may reduce your risk for developing dementia.
- Albert, M. S., Dekosky, S. T., Dickson, D., Dubois, B., Feldman, H. H., Fox, N. C., et al. (2011). The diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Association workgroup. Alzheimers Dement.
- Alzheimer's Association. (2011). Press Release: New Criteria and Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease Published for the first Time in 27 Years. The Alzheimer's Association, 1-11.
- Arvanitakis, Z., Wilson, R. S., Bienias, J. L., Evans, D. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2004). Diabetes mellitus and risk of Alzheimer disease and decline in cognitive function. Arch Neurol, 61(5), 661-666.
- Ballard, C., Gauthier, S., Corbett, A., Brayne, C., Aarsland, D., & Jones, E. (2011). Alzheimer's disease. Lancet, 377(9770), 1019-1031.
- Bird, T. D. (2010). Early-Onset Familial Alzheimer Disease. University of Washington, Gene Review.
- Birks, J., & Grimley Evans, J. (2009). Ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(1), CD003120.
- Bosco, D., Fava, A., Plastino, M., Montalcini, T., & Pujia, A. (2011). Possible implications of Insulin Resistance and Glucose metabolism in Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. J Cell Mol Med.
- Boyle, P. A., Buchman, A. S., Barnes, L. L., & Bennett, D. A. (2010). Effect of a purpose in life on risk of incident Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older persons. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 67(3), 304-310.
- Boyle, P. A., Buchman, A. S., Barnes, L. L., James, B. D., & Bennett, D. A. (2010). Association between life space and risk of mortality in advanced age. J Am Geriatr Soc, 58(10), 1925-1930.
- Brinkley, T. E., Lovato, J. F., Arnold, A. M., Furberg, C. D., Kuller, L. H., Burke, G. L., et al. (2010). Effect of Ginkgo biloba on blood pressure and incidence of hypertension in elderly men and women. Am J Hypertens, 23(5), 528-533.
- Daviglus, M. L., Bell, C. C., Berrettini, W., Bowen, P. E., Connolly, E. S., Cox, N. J., et al. (2010). NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement: Preventing Alzheimer's Disease and Cognitive Decline. NIH Consens State Sci Statements, 27(4).
- De Felice, F. G., Vieira, M. N., Bomfim, T. R., Decker, H., Velasco, P. T., Lambert, M. P., et al. (2009). Protection of synapses against Alzheimer's-linked toxins: insulin signaling prevents the pathogenic binding of Abeta oligomers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(6), 1971-1976.
- deIpolyi, A. R., Rankin, K. P., Mucke, L., Miller, B. L., & Gorno-Tempini, M. L. (2007). Spatial cognition and the human navigation network in AD and MCI. Neurology, 69(10), 986-997.
- DeKosky, S. T., Williamson, J. D., Fitzpatrick, A. L., Kronmal, R. A., Ives, D. G., Saxton, J. A., et al. (2008). Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 300(19), 2253-2262.
- Fillit, H. M., Butler, R. N., O'Connell, A. W., Albert, M. S., Birren, J. E., Cotman, C. W., et al. (2002). Achieving and maintaining cognitive vitality with aging. Mayo Clin Proc, 77(7), 681-696.
- Harold, D., Abraham, R., Hollingworth, P., Sims, R., Gerrish, A., Hamshere, M. L., et al. (2009). Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer's disease. Nat Genet, 41(10), 1088-1093.
- Herrmann, W., & Obeid, R. (2011). Homocysteine: a biomarker in neurodegenerative diseases. Clin Chem Lab Med, 49(3), 435-441.
- Keating, D. J., Chen, C., & Pritchard, M. A. (2006). Alzheimer's disease and endocytic dysfunction: clues from the Down syndrome-related proteins, DSCR1 and ITSN1. Ageing Res Rev, 5(4), 388-401.
- Ladika, D. J., & Gurevitz, S. L. (2011). Identifying the most common causes of reversible dementias: a review. JAAPA, 24(3), 28-31, 57.
- Li, K., Dai, D., Zhao, B., Yao, L., Yao, S., Wang, B., et al. (2010). Association between the RAGE G82S polymorphism and Alzheimer's disease. J Neural Transm, 117(1), 97-104.
- McKhanna, G. M., Knopmanc, D. S., Chertkowd, H., Hyman, B. T., Clifford R. Jack, J., Kawash, C. H., et al. (2011). The diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association workgroup.Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 1–7.
- Nation, D. A., Hong, S., Jak, A. J., Delano-Wood, L., Mills, P. J., Bondi, M. W., et al. (2011). Stress, exercise, and Alzheimer's disease: A neurovascular pathway. Med Hypotheses.
- National Library of Medicine. (2011). Alzheimer's Disease. Medline Plus; U.S. National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health.
- NCCAM. (2011). National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study. National Institutes of Health' National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- NIA. (2008). Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery. National Institute on Aging; National Institutes of Heath; US Department of Health and Human Services; NIH Publication Number 08-3782, 1-43.
- NIA. (2011). Caring for a Person with Alzheimer's Disease; Medicine Chart. National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging; Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center.
- NINDS. (2010). NINDS Alzheimer's Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; National Institutes of Health; US Department of Health & Human Services.
- NINDS. (2011). Dementia: Hope Through Research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health.
- Panza, F., Frisardi, V., Imbimbo, B. P., D'Onofrio, G., Pietrarossa, G., Seripa, D., et al. (2010). Bapineuzumab: anti-beta-amyloid monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Immunotherapy, 2(6), 767-782.
- Redish, A. D. (2001). The hippocampal debate: are we asking the right questions? Behav Brain Res, 127(1-2), 81-98.
- Reitz, C., Brayne, C., & Mayeux, R. (2011). Epidemiology of Alzheimer disease. Nat Rev Neurol, 7(3), 137-152.
- Reitz, C., den Heijer, T., van Duijn, C., Hofman, A., & Breteler, M. M. (2007). Relation between smoking and risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease: the Rotterdam Study. Neurology, 69(10), 998-1005.
- Seneff, S., Wainwright, G., & Mascitelli, L. (2011). Nutrition and Alzheimer's disease: The detrimental role of a high carbohydrate diet.Eur J Intern Med, 22(2), 134-140.
- Snitz, B. E., O'Meara, E. S., Carlson, M. C., Arnold, A. M., Ives, D. G., Rapp, S. R., et al. (2009). Ginkgo biloba for preventing cognitive decline in older adults: a randomized trial. JAMA, 302(24), 2663-2670.
- Solomon, P. R., Adams, F., Silver, A., Zimmer, J., & DeVeaux, R. (2002). Ginkgo for memory enhancement: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 288(7), 835-840.
- Traykov, L., Rigaud, A. S., Cesaro, P., & Boller, F. (2007). [Neuropsychological impairment in the early Alzheimer's disease].Encephale, 33(3 Pt 1), 310-316.
- Uc, E. Y., Rizzo, M., Anderson, S. W., Shi, Q., & Dawson, J. D. (2004). Driver route-following and safety errors in early Alzheimer disease.Neurology, 63(5), 832-837.
- Wegiel, J., Gong, C. X., & Hwang, Y. W. (2011). The role of DYRK1A in neurodegenerative diseases. FEBS J, 278(2), 236-245.
- Wilson, R. S., Mendes De Leon, C. F., Barnes, L. L., Schneider, J. A., Bienias, J. L., Evans, D. A., et al. (2002). Participation in cognitively stimulating activities and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. JAMA, 287(6), 742-748.
- Yu, F. (2011). Guiding Research and Practice: A Conceptual Model for Aerobic Exercise Training in Alzheimer's Disease. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen.